Audit of Sarasota County Voting Machines Starts This Week

By David Bruggeman
November 27, 2006

Update – November 29
All the area papers have reported on yesterday’s parallel test in Sarasota County. There were some small discrepencies between the results and the scripts they had election workers run during the test. The video will be reviewed today. One item in the press coverage grabbed my attention. If I understand this Miami Herald piece correctly there were a total of 251 votes cast on the four machines that followed the scripts (a fifth one was used that followed no particular script). (Reviewing the Script and Review Screen Checklists for those four machines confirms the total number of votes.)

This is a very small number of votes (there were a total of 123,901 votes cast for Buchanan and Jennings in Sarasota County) on a very small number of machines. The two tests will use a total of 10 machines, while the county used 1,498 on November 8. That means .667% of the total number of machines will be tested – or .333% if you discount the 5 machines tested that weren’t actually used in the election. The audit process will continue beyond the two tests scheduled for this week, possibly extending well into December. Expect the process to be rigorously scrutinized by both campaigns and other parties. Hopefully that will prompt a rigorous review and testing process, but that remains to be seen.

Update – November 28
The first phase of parallel testing is happening as I write this. The State Division of Elections released its updated audit plan yesterday. The Bradenton Herald summarizes the procedure, as well as the participating observers. The new detail in this plan focuses on specific machines that will be involved. For the first part of the test, machines not involved in the election will be used, but they will follow scripts based on event logs from machines used in the election.

Original Post – November 27
The audit compelled by the more than 18,000 Sarasota County undervotes for the 13th Congressional District is scheduled to start tomorrow, November 28. The Florida Department of State, in a press release has briefly outlined the steps. Parallel testing of machines prepared for Election Day but not used in the election will take place starting the 28th. On December 1st, parallel testing will take place with machines used on Election Day. The public and representatives of the candidates are invited to observe the testing, which will be videotaped, and take place from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (presumably to mirror poll hours). While the link above is titled “Audit Plan” on the Division of Elections webpage, there is nothing to indicate any changes from the audit plan they posted dated 11/13.

As with our previous post on this topic, we will update as the situation changes.